Review: Grave Encounters

Starring: Sean Rogerson, Juan Riedinger, Ashleigh Gryzko

Directors: The Vicious Brothers

 ”I don’t know how much longer we can last. We’re not alone in here anymore.”

Paranormal investigation show, Grave Encounters, is now on its sixth episode and presenter Lance Preston and his team are locking themselves in the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital for the night. Expecting the kind of anti-climatic experience which has let the show down so far, the team find quite the opposite.

I’m a big fan of the increasingly prolific ‘found footage’ genre of horror movie. For some reason, its ratio of good to bad is unusually impressive. So I was very much looking forward to Grave Encounters, the debut from writer/director team The Vicious Brothers (who are not brothers and do not have the surname Vicious). Based on those often cheesy TV ghost-hunting shows which have found popularity over recent years, Grave Encounters simply takes the format and demonstrates what would happen if these people actually found something during one of their episodes. The filmmakers also expressed a desire to take a genre that is by nature often restrained to maintain realism and throw something a little more excessive into the mix. In this regard the filmmakers succeed, although not always to the movie’s benefit.

Grave Encounters takes it slow at first, giving us time to get to know Lance Preston, played with an amusing earnestness by Sean Rogerson, and his team of pantomime presenters and technicians as they settle into the impressive location for the night. The problem is that they are so convincing as they kind of people who usually front these shows that they are also, inevitably, rather irritating; all pretentious looks and solemn pronouncements. You are waiting for them to find out what being scared really is, and therefore never completely on their side when things go to hell.

It is when the hospital haunting begins in earnest that Grave Encounters both scales its heights and scrapes its lows. Those who have grown weary of the lack of incident in these types of movies will find much more going on during this one. In fact, the filmmakers seem at great pains to ensure that, if nothing else, their movie will never be accused of being boring. Where most other entries in this genre are content to tickle the back of your neck, Grave Encounters simply slaps you round the head. It is not subtle and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, with some very effective frighteners but also a few scares a little too heavily signposted to truly shock. It doesn’t help that one of the main scares appeared in the trailer.

Who ya gonna call? Art students!

There are a few inspired moments amongst the horror movie clichés and classics, particularly in the way that the movie plays with your expectations as morning arrives, very little has happened and you wonder where the movie will go next. However, one thing Grave Encounters can lay solid claim to is the fact that it is a whole lot of fun to watch. Once the action kicks off it barely relents and the last forty minutes provide a breathless ride that will have you either jumping, screaming, laughing, or all of the above, depending on how you take to the various shaky-cam assaults which the hospital throws at our not-so-intrepid TV crew.

Grave Encounters is probably not one for the high-brow horror enthusiast. Yes, there is the odd CGI embellishment. Yes, it wants to entertain rather than convince. It’s a bit of a crowd-pleaser with a hit-and-miss, kitchen sink approach that may grate with some. However, watch it on its own terms, don’t take it too seriously and the chances are you’ll have a blast.

Rating – 3 Stars


9 people thought reading “Review: Grave Encounters” would be a good idea. Stranger still, they left messages...

    1. Richard Post author

      Hey, Ruth. Thanks for dropping by. I’m good, just really, really busy. My poor old blog is getting rather neglected as a result. :-(

      Hope you’re well, too, Ruth. :-)

  1. Dan

    Hadn’t heard of this one Richard so thanks for bringing it to my attention. As a fan of found footage films and Most Haunted (well, the older episodes with Derek Acorah) I think I might like this one.

    1. Richard Post author

      If you’re a fan of found footage then this is definitely worth a look. It’s on a very limited release at the moment, though. One of those movies that will probably pick up momentum for a while. But if you get the chance, you should give it a go.

      Thanks for stopping by, Dan. Good to see you.

      1. Dan

        I do love the found footage genre – The Blair Witch Project is still one of my favourite films. I just watched REC 2 and thought it was an excellent sequel to a very well made original.

        1. Richard Post author

          Hey, Dan. Sorry for the EXTREMELY delayed reply. I’ve been away for a while.

          I love the found footage genre, too. It gets put down a lot as nothing more than a fad which has run out of steam, but I totally disagree. Hope you’ve managed to catch this one since the comment.

  2. cookware

    It’s not real. It’s like Paranormal Activity, the Blair Witch Project, the Last Broadcast, Cloverfield, etc. It’s supposed to looks real, but it’s just a Hollywood movie.


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